Book Review: Endgame by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

EndgameI have a ton to say here. Spoiler alert: this is one of my favorite books of the year. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

Twelve ancient cultures were chosen millennia ago to represent humanity in Endgame, a global game that will decide the fate of humankind. Endgame has always been a possibility, but never a reality…until now. Twelve meteorites have just struck Earth, each meteorite containing a message for a Player who has been trained for this moment. At stake for the Players: saving their bloodline, as well as the fate of the world. And only one can win.

Endgame is real. Endgame is now. Endgame has begun.

Google Niantic is building a mobile location-based augmented reality videogame inextricably tied to the books and mythology, a major prize will be tied to a puzzle in each book, and Twentieth Century Fox has bought the movie rights.

Read the Books. Find the Clues. Solve the Puzzle. Who will Win?

1. The writing is crazy intense.

Okay, so the writing in this book is fantastic. Sometimes it’s broken up, sometimes it’s in fragments, and sometimes it’s just beautiful prose. I loved every second of this. And, as soon as this started to drag even a little, it was all BAM!!! and punches you in the face. I loved it. Have I said that enough yet? Because you’re going to hear more of it.

2. The points of view are crazy and take a little getting used to.

So, this story is told from the point of view of all of the Players. We have insight to all of them, we know their pasts, and even when they’re in their own part of the story, they share it with other Players. You know everything that is going on at all times, except when it comes to the Sky People who are orchestrating Endgame. I thought this was really interesting. Pay attention to the chapter titles, because they’ll tell you who you’re with and where you are. Sometimes, it’ll have a Player in the chapter title – one you wouldn’t expect or didn’t think would be there – and you’ll say to yourself, “oh, shit. This is going to get nuts.” And it does. This was a really, really interesting point of view choice, especially for how intense this book was from beginning to end. This really helps in how you feel about the characters, too. You really have some intense hatred for some of these people, while you feel the opposite for (most of) the others.

3. Going off of my last point, the beginning grabs you so hard, that you’ll probably have to take breaks.

So, I started this book two days ago. From the first chapter, my pulse was racing and I had to take breaks every few chapters. The book opens with meteors striking the earth while we’re meeting all of the Players. We meet the Players, get a sense for them, and from about page 50, you know who you’re rooting for. This had my heart racing pretty much the entire time, but the beginning is the part with the most craziness. It’s honestly just not expected and this is the first punch you get right in your face from Frey and Johnson-Shelton. I really can’t sing the praises of this book’s excitement enough.

4. There are Players that you as the reader are meant to root for, and it is really difficult to only root for those Players. So, in my case, there were 4 (I think) Players that I hated and wanted to die…

So, this kind of upset me, because I want to know CLEARLY who I’m rooting for. The problem is, there are 12 Players, and I love all of them but 4. The sad thing is, the 4 I hate are psychotic maniacs. I can hear you thinking, “but aren’t they all psychotic maniacs? They’re playing a game where they have to kill people!” The answer to that is no. A lot of these Players are good people who see Endgame as a curse instead of a blessing. The ones you have to watch out for are the ones who were looking forward to it. This book shows you a whole new world of crazy and you’ll love it.

5. I’m sure you’ve seen it on Goodreads, so let’s just get down to the business of James Frey, and let me get preachy for a second.

So, if you don’t know, James Frey wrote a memoir back in the day called A Million Little Pieces. This book hit the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, and he even earned a spot on Oprah’s show (when she still had her daytime talk show). Some evidence came to light (after Oprah had added his memoir to her book list) that Frey’s “memoir” was bullshit. He denied, denied, denied until Oprah called him out on her show – and he admitted it. The big hooplah could’ve been avoided if he had touted his novel as fiction instead of a memoir. I’m sure people wouldn’t have cared, and it still would’ve reached the top of the best seller lists. All of these things aside, why does it matter? As a former drug addict, I don’t understand why everyone got so crazy mad about a recovery memoir revealed to be fiction. So what? Did it help you through your issues? Oh, it did? Then why are you mad? But, that’s just my opinion. Now, onto my Goodreads rant. So, I look at Goodreads reviews of books I’m reading after I’ve formed my own opinion about the book. Usually this happens about halfway through, maybe a little more. Anyway, I was looking at these “reviews” on Goodreads, and I only saw two reviews (I didn’t search through the thousands there) written by people who had actually read the book. People were basing their opinions on the synopsis and the author himself. (There was some talk about Nils Johnson-Shelton, too but I never really knew much about that, so I can’t really offer any information. Google it, if you’re curious). People were going on these LONG rants about how they’ll never read this book, how similar it is to Hunger Games, how Frey is someone who doesn’t deserve their money. Hold on a second there, guy. Why do you think he doesn’t deserve your money? Because many moons ago, he lied? So what? He’s a fantastic fiction writer, as exhibited by this book. I don’t think people should post “reviews” about a book unless they’ve read it. And, if you don’t want to give Frey your money, and you want to read this, there is always your local library.

6. Last point here. The similarities and differences between Endgame and The Hunger Games.

So, there are a lot of people trying to compare these two. I am here to tell you that that happens all the time, and it’s really annoying. Those people posting “reviews” based on the synopsis are wrong, plain and simple. I can see their arguments: Earth = Panem, 12 blood lines = 12 districts, each line has a champion between 13 and 20 = tributes between the ages of 13 and 18. Here is where the similarities end. Does HG have aliens? Oh…nope. What about being able to go wherever they want in the world and have help from their families and trainers and friends? Oh…HG doesn’t have that, either. What about the world ending if their champion doesn’t win? I guess not. Endgame is steeped so much in science fiction and fantasy and ancient mythology about unexplained things on our planet, that I really see no similarity. I can see how people could read the main premise and think that, but if people just read the damn book, then they would see.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!!! If I could give it more than five stars, I would. Screw it: INFINITY STARS. I LOVED this book so much, from beginning to end. I am so so glad I picked this up. I was nervous at first, because I always am when it comes to sci-fi or fantasy, but this surprised me and kept me captivated until the last page where I shook my fist at the sky and cursed the authors. This book is long and worth it. I wanted MORE when I was done. I guess I’ll just have to wait another year for the sequel. So, do yourself a favor, and click the link to order (or add to your Christmas wishlist! Tis the season!).

Click to Order!!


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